Sen. Fedor asks governor to step in and stop any sale, transfer of UTMC

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Leaders in Toledo came together today, levying some bold accusations at the affiliation agreement between ProMedica and the University of Toledo.

The legislators are asking Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to weigh in on whether the agreement is actually a hostile takeover of the University of Toledo by the healthcare provider.

State Senator Teresa Fedor spoke today at One Government Center, asking DeWine to halt any sale of transfer of UTMC until the entire UT-ProMedica deal can be re-examined. She wants that done by people with subpoena power.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz hosted the news conference and emphasized the importance of UTMC to the entire region.

“This hospital is vital to the health of our citizens and our economy,’’ the mayor said. “It offers top-tier medical care and it provides our region with good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.’’

The university is currently taking proposals to buy or partner with the hospital, in part because of the millions of dollars of deficits the hospital is running. The University of Toledo faces a June 10 deadline to accept bids to buy, lease or manage UTMC.

In 2015, the school signed an academic affiliation with ProMedica, meaning more residents and teaching at places like Toledo Hospital. It was not an agreement with UTMC.

That same year as Ohio's Attorney General, DeWine wrote that his office had "no present antitrust concerns" about UT's affiliation with ProMedica. However, he said his office reserved the right to take future action “should the affiliation prove to be anticompetitive in purpose or effect."

“In light of the alleged conflicts and well-documented harm the agreement has caused UTMC, we are asking you to closely examine this new information to confirm it does pose antitrust concerns, place a stay on all transfer of services, and halt the sale or lease of the hospital,’’ Fedor and Rep. Michael Sheehy wrote in a June 1 letter to DeWine.

In a statement Tuesday, the university said agreement has helped the medical school by doubling the size of the faculty, tripling the number of hospital beds available to students and increased the number of graduates staying locally for residencies.

But now with UTMC having deep money issues, some are seeing that academic agreement in a new light.

The letter notes that some of UTMC's top revenue-generating departments have already been transferred to Toledo Hospital as evidence of harm the agreement has caused to UTMC. Orthopedic services are to be transferred by July 1.

Fedor referenced a recent analysis in Becker’s Hospital Review showing that Orthopedic surgery is among the physician specialties that generate the highest average annual net revenue for hospitals.

Fedor highlighted that plans to transfer specific physician specialties were not detailed in the affiliation agreement. Those decisions were made later by a committee with an equal numbers of representatives from ProMedica and UT, she said.

When pressed about how a hostile takeover would even unfold, how ProMedica could influence board members and the university to put a hostile takeover into motion, this was the explanation:

"The bottom line in this country: politics and money, power and money have an awful lot to do with things get decided and settled,” said former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. "Somewhere in the top 35 hospital organizations in America there's ProMedica. That's a lot of money.”

As a state university, the Governor will need to sign off on any sale.

ProMedica made the following statement Tuesday in regards to these allegations:

“The University of Toledo’s academic affiliation request involved a public competitive bidding process that was run by an expert outside consultant. After multiple proposals were reviewed, the independent consultant recommended that the UT board of trustees accept ProMedica’s proposal. The board voted to do so unanimously.

The academic affiliation is no different than any other partnership agreement ProMedica has entered into — it was done thoughtfully, transparently, and with the community’s best interest in mind. The goal of the academic affiliation was to positively transform medical education in our community and position the college and students to achieve their fullest potential — and that is happening."